[Written while listening to this. Comments are welcome below.]
Yessss! I’m very excited to present Pinpoint Bodywork’s very first blog post. It’s been a little under a week since soft-launching the site on Facebook on April 13, 2016. Since then I’ve been sifting through ideas of how to kick off this posting extravaganza. It finally dawned on me a good starting point would be to explore one very important reason why this site was born in the first place.
Here we go
I’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details of my background (if you want to know more, you can go here). Long story short: I’ve been an LMT since 1994. At that time, there was limited information about the actual effects of massage on the body (there were many fair guesses though) and there was ZERO information on what the real world would be like after I was done with school. I was basically thrust into the world clueless and hungry at a time when the internet was just becoming a thing no one ever dreamed you’d be able to watch TV shows on. So, I’ve really had to dig deep for much of what I’ve learned. And I’m still digging.
You’d think having access to lightning fast internet connections would make digging for information easier for everyone, but it doesn’t. It’s become more challenging and the proof of that is in the puddin’. In this case, the puddin’ is the true state of the profession of massage therapy (particularly in the United States). We have TOO MUCH information, and unfortunately much of it is bogus.
Where are we going?
We were doing well for a while with being considered sorta-kinda-maybe healthcare professionals, but then something slowly began changing. Credibility began slipping through the fingers of our progress (some may disagree with this statement, and that is o.k. but like it or not, there are plenty of sentiments to back it up). Up until the 90s, massage was widely covered by insurance companies and now the ability for MTs to earn a living by receiving reimbursement is dwindling and losing ground as we speak. Do you wonder why that is? No no no, big pharma is not to blame. We are the ones who have been holding ourselves back.
Before moving on, it is important to know a brief history of modern massage therapy. It puts our place in the world into perspective and it will make you proud. You can read a fantastic summary of it here (article by Patricia J. Benjamin, Ph.D., L.M.T., and AMTA National Historian).
Now, I’m not sure what happened between the birth of modern massage and where we are today, but massage therapy has yet to realize its full capability. This may be a $12.1 billion industry, but we still have a very long way to go in walking side by side with other healthcare professionals. I won’t get into all of the reasons why right now, because this blog post would turn into a 1,000 page report and ain’t nobody got time for that. But for starters, the profession of massage therapy is stuck in the middle of a huge identity crisis. And it can only move forward if everyone does their part in helping to sort out its identity. The big kick in the pants is much of this sorting out process entails permanently discarding outdated beliefs and myths and stepping onto the concrete evidence available to us as of 2016. This is what I like to call “the separation of church and state” in massage therapy. However, accomplishing this has been a lot more challenging than one may imagine. You’ll see what I mean 😉
Where do YOU want US to go?
“Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.” -Marcia McNutt, geophysicist
There is a divide in the profession of those that want to move it forward (even if it means simplifying the definition of the service we provide, which is actually a good thing) and those who are settled in the ways of false claims. There are those who remain ever curious and those who never question what they’ve been told to believe. I used to be one to buy into anything that sounded cool, mystical, or mysterious. But as I began digging (initially looking for evidence to support the claims of the cool special things I thought I knew about), I began discovering there was a lot wrong with what I learned- or if not entirely wrong, what I learned was highly inaccurate. And to make matters worse, there was no evidence to support it, or if there was it had since been refuted. My world of knowledge collapsed and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to the way I approached my work as a MT. The truth will set you free, but may hurt just a little at first 😉
To be fair, some of the stuff I was taught was based on the best information available at the time. But today there is better data and new discoveries are being made as I write this. Now it is time for massage therapy to catch up with itself and realize its true purpose so more people may benefit from it, both within and outside of the profession.
Dr. Moyer is a behavioral scientist and massage researcher whose work has opened my eyes on many levels. He is also co-author of the textbook Massage Therapy: Integrating Research and Practice. His article sums up perfectly one of the most important reasons behind creating this site: separating the facts from the fluff. It also addresses a truth that is hard for some to swallow. We can believe whatever we like, but as healthcare professionals we cannot present personal beliefs as facts and make medical claims based upon them. Doing so is hurting the credibility of our profession.
Let’s get to work.
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